GAA Football

Derry could benefit from new preliminary round rule as Ulster SFC draw takes place

Derry and Tyrone will be exempt from the Ulster SFC preliminary round for 2020 and 2021, which could aid the Oak Leafers in their bid to avoid dropping into a proposed second tier championship.

THIS morning’s 2020 Ulster SFC draw – which takes place at 8.35am on RTÉ Radio 1 - won’t throw up any late surprises in terms of format, though the change to the preliminary round that had been previously mooted will be implemented.

Having met in the prelim last year, Derry and Tyrone are both exempted from the opening game of next year’s championship, as well as the 2021 competition. They can, however, still be drawn against each other in a quarter-final.

In their 2011, 2012 and 2018 successes of the last decade, Donegal have gone a long way towards lifting the curse of being drawn in the preliminary round, which had traditionally been a huge barrier to success in Ulster.

Being exempt could prove invaluable for Derry, who along with Down and Antrim will begin life outside the top two divisions next year, meaning they could be destined for the proposed second tier championship unless it either gets voted down at Congress or they reach the Ulster final.

The draws were made yesterday for the Munster and Connacht football championships, with Cork and Kerry paired together at the semi-final stage for the first time since the Munster Council dropped its seeding policy.

The heavyweights met in last year’s provincial final and after a good summer that was built off the back of their performance that night, hopes will be high of a proper Cork challenge this year as Kerry go in search of their eighth straight title.

The winners of the Waterford-Limerick and Clare-Tipperary quarter-finals will meet in the other semi-final, with one of the quartet guaranteed a rare Munster final appearance.

Galway and Mayo are on opposite sides of the draw in Connacht, but Roscommon’s status as winners in two of the last three seasons – and finalists in all three – has finally earned them a bit of respect.

They’ll travel to London first while Galway are the ones in the Big Apple next year. Mayo will take on Leitrim in the other quarter-final, with Mayo and Roscommon on a collision course in the semi-final.

2020 Connacht SFC

Quarter-finals: New York v Galway; London v Roscommon; Mayo v Leitrim

Semi-finals: New York/Galway v Sligo; London/Roscommon v Mayo/Leitrim

2020 Munster SFC

Quarter-finals: Waterford v Limerick; Clare v Tipperary

Semi-finals: Waterford/Limerick v Clare/Tipperary; Cork v Kerry

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